How close is too close?

Artists and educators Howard Oransky and Clarence Morgan work on breaking down the distance between the mind and art.

A detailed photograph of Oransky's

A detailed photograph of Oransky’s “Distant Thoughts” reveals sweeping brushstrokes that expose the movement of the work. PHOTO COURTESY FORM+CONTENT GALLERY

John Sand

âÄúShared DistanceâÄù WHERE: Form+Content Gallery, 210 2nd St. N., Minneapolis.. WHEN: Sep. 10 âÄì Oct. 17 PRICE: Free Distance may seem like a concrete concept. It can be measured in miles, meters and angstroms, but not everything important can be measured. How far away are generations? When matter and molecules are mostly space, how can one calculate the physical and emotional distance between people? This abstract concept of distance is the theme that painter Howard Oransky is tackling in âÄúShared Space,âÄù the new exhibition at Form+Content Gallery in Minneapolis. Oransky, the former director of planning at the Walker and current director of continuing studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design , created each of the four paintings specifically for this show. Color paintings of enormous scale, the largest is 3 1/2 feet by 25 1/2 feet, span an entire wall of the Form+Content gallery. He said the goal in the creation of each of his four works, was to âÄúexplore the physicality of paint-handling.âÄù The paintings were created using thick, three-inch and four-inch brushes. The dense waving lines of OranskyâÄôs âÄúDistant Thoughts,âÄù are broad and strong, exposing each bristle of the brush and swoop of the arm. âÄúDistant Thoughts,âÄù plays with the light of the mind, circling in beige with thin scratches of crimson and swoops of navy, reminiscent of a heavy north wind from Hraesvelg, the Norse eagle god atop the Tree of Life. For âÄúShared Distance,âÄù Oransky chose to show his work with the abstract paintings and ink drawings of Clarence Morgan, a professor and chair of the art department at the University of Minnesota. Morgan says his and OranskyâÄôs art share similarities in practicing a specific abstract language in painting, a form that has been working in the art world since the early 20th century. âÄúLook at the way we practice abstraction and see if we have updated this vernacular for [the 21st century]âÄù he said. The two met shortly after Oransky first dipped his toes in the deep well that is the Minneapolis art community in 1994. After he accepted a position teaching critical studies at MCAD, he became a more active member of the community, serving on the Board of the Center for Art Criticism. The name âÄúShared DistanceâÄù is a name that Oransky chose from two of MorganâÄôs paintings. âÄúAs an artist, there is a distance between the vision you see in your head and the mark you make with your hands,âÄù Oransky said. The point of training is to try to close this space, translate the firing of neurons directly onto the concrete world. MorganâÄôs abstract black and white images combine a curvilinear permutation of classical cross-hatching with the sharp, clean lines of Hello Kitty. The paintings seem to extend hundreds of miles back through the wall. âÄúThere is a calligraphic feel to my work and his work,âÄù Oransky said.